Jul 28, 2015
At ASD, we are often the first point of contact for people who are at their most vulnerable moments. One of the first lessons Call Specialists learn during ASD’s 6-month training period is the range of emotions they may encounter on a daily basis. We recognize our employees when they go above and beyond on a call to ensure a funeral director is able to connect with a family member or loved one in need. Each week, ASD spotlights a Call Specialist who handles a particularly challenging call with patience and accuracy as the “Sensitive Save”award winner. This provides an opportunity to dissect difficult calls so the ASD staff can use the transcript as a model going forward.
Here are the “Sensitive Save” winners for the month of July:
When a person calls a funeral home for the first time, it is likely that he or she may have a tentative understanding of funeral procedures. It is common for family members not to identify their needs as urgent, even when a passing recently occurred. This week our Training Specialist, Victoria, handled a call from a gentleman asking for the funeral home’s hours. After Victoria relayed this information, the caller was going to hang up but Victoria followed up by asking if his call was related to a passing. The gentleman paused a long moment, then stated, “Well, actually I just had some questions about services and ceremonies.” Victoria then inquired if he needed to know a time for a funeral service. The caller hesitated again and then said, “I didn’t know if everything would be booked up.” This led Victoria to ask, once again, if someone passed. The gentleman then stated that his mother had passed and he needed to know if a specific date was available for her funeral service. By paying close attention to this caller’s pauses and listening to other unspoken clues, Victoria was able determine the true reason for his call and ensure the director was notified immediately. She is our “Sensitive Save of the Week” winner for the careful listening and excellent communication skills she exhibited throughout this call.
Understanding the needs of funeral home callers is crucial for ensuring that urgent messages are prioritized appropriately. For this reason, ASD’s 6-month training program includes careful examination of the phrases and terminology used within the funeral profession. This week our Training Specialist, Lorenzo, answered a call from a gentleman who wanted to know if his brother came by the funeral home to drop off a check for an irrevocable burial policy. Understanding that an irrevocable burial policy is a type of prearrangement, Lorenzo immediately gathered the caller’s contact information. He then followed up by asking, “Just to verify, this is for an irrevocable trust, no one passed, correct?” The caller then stated that the policy was for his sister who had just passed away. Although this initially sounded like a simple bill payment inquiry, Lorenzo’s questioning helped him to identify the true reason for the call. He is our “Sensitive Save of the Week” winner for using his knowledge of funeral terminology to help him to properly respond to this caller’s urgent need.
From sadness to guilt to anger—there are many complex emotions that can occur after the passing of a loved one. This week our Call Specialist, Lauren, answered an extremely difficult call where she had to respond to two grieving family members simultaneously. When two sisters called the funeral home together using speakerphone, Lauren had to listen carefully to identify the two different voices. The two women were reacting very differently to their mother’s death. While one of the callers was furious because she believed a nursing home had mistreated her mother, the other caller was hysterical and crying throughout the call. Lauren waited patiently and gathered information as the women spoke so that the callers could explain their situation fully. She then expressed her condolences to both women and offered to contact the on-call director immediately. By the end of the call, both callers sounded more composed and reassured. Laura is our “Sensitive Save of the Week” winner for handling this extremely challenging call with patience and sensitivity.
ASD’s 6-month training program is focused on helping callers feel comfortable enough to provide their contact information and reason for calling. During a recent call handled by our Call Specialist, Mauricio, a gentleman stated that he thought he was going to get a voicemail and only needed the office hours. When Mauricio explained that a director was always available 24/7, the caller responded that someone else was going to call back later. This led Mauricio to inquire if someone had just passed. The caller then explained that his mother in law passed but he was just getting the hours to pass along to his wife and her family. Mauricio expressed his condolences and stated, “I can collect the information and have the director call you. We do have an on-call director that can return your call in 15 minutes.” The caller then explained his reservations – he was worried his wife’s family would want to be the one to speak with a director. Mauricio put the caller at ease by saying, “I understand. I just need to collect the preliminary information, that way the directors will know exactly what’s going on when they speak to your wife and her family.” The caller then began to provide more information on his mother in law’s passing. Maurico is our “Sensitive Save of the Week winner for earning the trust of this caller and gathering all of the necessary details.
Click here to read about June’s “Sensitive Save of the Week” Award Winners
Has ASD ever handled a particularly difficult or challenging call for your funeral home? Leave us a comment and tell us about it!
About The Author
Jess Farren (Fowler)
Jess Farren (Fowler) is a Public Relations Specialist and Staff Writer who has been a part of the ASD team since 2003. Jess manages ASD’s company blog and has been published in several funeral trade magazines. She has written articles on a variety of subjects including communication, business planning, technology, marketing and funeral trends. You can contact Jess directly at Jess@myASD.com